Octobre (1994)

 

 

Director:     Pierre Falardeau. 

Starring:     Hugo Dubé (Le Gros), Luc Picard (Felquiste), Pierre Rivard (Felquiste), Denis Trudel (Felquiste), Serge Houde (Pierre Laporte), Julie Castonguay (Louise), Raymond Leriche (Marcel), Gilles Marsolais (Henri), Fenise Gagnon (Waitress), Richard Barrette (Client), Yves Trudel (Ti-Casse), Yvel Champagne (Femme d'Henri), Jules Falardeau (Jules), Jean Falardeau (Livreur B.B.Q.), Hélène Falardeau (La petite Hélene).

the October Crisis from the point of view of the FLQ terrorist Chénier Cell who in 1970 kidnapped and murdered Quebec minister and Deputy Premier Pierre Laporte

 

 

Spoiler Warning:  below is a summary of the entire film. 

"200 years after the British conquest of 1760 Quebecers again fight for their independence.  Like the Patriotes of 1837, the Quebec Liberation Front takes action stealing guns and money, dynamiting, etc.  Year after year police break up FLQ networks. In response to this repression, and to free their jailed comrades, FLQ militants launch Operation Liberation.  This film tells a true story based on respect for facts and people."

October 17.  Two men place what appears to be a dead body into the trunk of a car.  They back the car out of the garage.  One fellow drives the victim's car to the airport and then sets the car in motion to head into the No Trespassing area.  Now that driver gets in on the passenger side of the get-away car.  The driver, however, can't get the car started.  He may have flooded the engine.  Both men get very nervous, but the car finally does start. 

"Necessary and unjustifiable."  Albert Camus

Eight days earlier.  October 9.  The news says that they have just received a communiqué from the abductors of James Cross.  The kidnappers left an envelope in a phone booth on Jean Talon Street.  The  Quebec Liberation Front temporarily calls off the threatened execution of diplomat James Cross.  Four FLQ guys in a car are really angry.  One of the fellows says:  "They caved in!"

The demands of the radicals are:  an immediate end to all searches and arrests by the police and the release of 23 political prisoners.  They say that if their demands are met they will release James Cross.   The guys in the car want to makes some kind of other abduction to help the FLQ,.  They start talking about kidnapping Pierre Laporte in St. Lambert. 

The next day the kidnappers head to Pierre Laporte's house.  The man is outside playing catch with his son.   Two of the kidnappers jump out of the car and grab Laporte.  They throw him into the back seat, the two fellows get back in the car and the car takes off.  The FLQ fellows just do get past an intersection before the police stop all traffic there. The guys are so happy that their abduction was a success. 

Laporte is brought to a house and thrown onto a bed in a bedroom.  The FLQ talks about their calling Laporte the Minister of Unemployment and Assimilation.  The Quebec government has refused to comment.  There is no news about James Cross abducted five days ago. 

October 11.  Government leader Robert Bourassa has rushed back from New York to deal with the crisis.  [Bourassa was the premier of Quebec from May 12, 1970, to November 25, 1976, and from December 12, 1985, to January 11.]  In the paper it says that Laporte is a pillar of the Bourassa government.  Both Laporte and James Cross are the same age:  49 years old.  The newspaper also says he was the vice-president of the Montréal Chamber of Commerce.  At the age of 40 he was elected MNA at the age of 40.  Under Premier Lesage he served as ministers of culture and municipal affairs.  He tries to become the leader of the liberal party, but he did not succeed.  He was defeated by Robert Bourassa.  So, he became the Deputy Premier and Minister of Labour of the province of Quebec.]

The group that kidnapped Laporte says that if Ottawa and Quebec do not accept the FLQ's seven conditions, he will be killed at 10 p.m.  The four radicals also decide to send Laporte's letter to Robert Bourassa.  The letter tells Bourassa to stop all attempts to find him because this would mean that his life would end in a bloodbath.  One of Laporte's kidnappers drops the letter to Bourassa  in a trash can. 

Laporte asks the 19 year-old fellow about why he became a radical?  The fellow says they were just fed up with being pushed around by horrible bosses who only pay them starvation wages. 

Bourassa reads a statement saying that the freeing of the prisoners will lead to the release of the hostages.  The four radicals figure that this means the government will negotiate with them.  They start celebrating as if this was a victory of the FLQ.

October 12.  The news on the radio is that both FLQ cells have suspended their threats to execute their hostages.  The FLQ is upset that the government has of yet not even appointed a negotiator between the two sides.  Laporte himself  tells the 19 year old that it's normal that it takes the government a lot of time to get anything done, but the government will negotiate with the FLQ.  The young man asks Laporte's if his watch cost as much as 100 bucks.   Laporte says he's seen watches selling for as much as 10,000 bucks. 

The young radical appears visibly upset.  One of his comrades asks him what's wrong?   The young one says it's tough on him to watch the captive who is handcuffed to his own bed   He says that Laporte is in a situation worse than prison because a regular prisoner has a lot of relative freedom that Laporte doesn't even have.  For instance, he can't go outside for a walk.  The comrade tells the young man to think about their 23 brethren who are going to be getting out of jail after six or seven years in prison.  The young man says he knows all about the political prisoners, but that still doesn't make it easy watching a man virtually tied to his bed 24 hours a day.  He adds that now he's the "screw" putting on and taking off the prisoner's handcuffs. 

Another radical says it's also hard on him to see Laporte handcuff all the time.  He says he can't even stand to go into Laporte's room. 

News Bulletin.  The Quebec government appoints Robert Demers,. a 33 year-old lawyer, to negotiate the release of Cross and Laporte.  Last night, Demers met with his FLQ counterpart, Robert Lemieux. 

Laporte is sick of eating spaghetti every night, so he tells the radicals that he will pay for take-out.  They order chicken and the delivery fellow brings the food to the house. 

October 13.  One of the radicals known as BB has to call the authorities and tell them that the letter is in a trash bin in the Beaudry subway station.  Two police officers follow the radical.  He gets onto a bus and so do the police.  One of the policemen sits right in front of the radical in the next seat.  A little later BB calls in to the fellows saying that he was followed.  He also says that the police haven't arrested him yet because they want to grab the hole gang at one time.

The family he is staying with helps BB color his hair partly white to make him look older.  The son runs into the house saying that there are two men outside in a car pretending to read and sleep. 

On television there is a program on the Quebec protests.  They say that the Quebec people are tired of watching all the really good jobs go to the native English speakers.  The protestors told the Anglos that they would no longer tolerate such discrimination.  In 1963 the FLQ was established. 

BB starts to modify his facial features by banging a brick covered with cloth into his head.  When he does come out all the banging does make him look older.  BB calls the house and says he wants to come there.  Absolutely not!  His job now is to work on the outside.  He needs to contact the other cell of FLQ

BB talks with one of the head leaders of FLQ.  He complains about the poor quality of leadership shown by the leader.  ]BB says that they needed to rebuild the organization after the police raids, but the leader calls them all cowards and this forced the injured organization to start taking radical moves.  It was too early for a abduction of James Cross.  And then his group abducted Pierre Laporte.  It was all too soon.  The leaders firmly tells BB that he didn't come here to be lectured.  They have to figure out what they should do now. 

October 14.  They are moving Laporte around.  Suddenly the police arrive and they figure this is going to all end in violence.   The two men left in the house bring Laporte to the center of the living room and tell him that if there's one false move they will all be blown to bits.  The 19 year old puts a dynamite bomb into the hands of Laporte.  The two radicals stand to the right and left of Laporte.  They say they are ready for the police to try and bust in now.  They both stand there ready to fire their weapons.  But nothing happens.  This starts driving the radicals mad and they start shouting insults at the police.  Fineally, the 19 year old radical rushes over to the main window.  He looks out and sees that the police have just raided the house across the street.  He now tells his comrade about the mix-up. 

The protests of the Quebecers grows very large.  The radicals are pleased with the support they are being given. 

The guys have move their safe house close to the army base.  At night they see a huge convoy leaving the base.  Laporte is very upset and agitated saying that the government has given into Ottawa and they have written him off.  He is beginning to think he will not get out of this mess alive.  The radicals talk over the situation.  One says that Trudeau is the one pulling the strings now. 

The bad news is heard over the radio.  The government proposes that the Red Cross serve as mediator between the two groups over the question of the survival of Laporte and Cross.  There will be no amnesty for the political prisoners.  In other words, the government has rejected all the items the FLQ wanted them to accept. 

The radio news says that the government forces are rounding up any and all suspects.  The FLQ is now outlawed and civil rights are suspended.   Around 200 people have been arrested all across Quebec. 

October 16.  Laporte busts a hole in the window in his room and starts screaming for help.  The radicals rush over and pull him back, but Laporte's wrists have been cut open and he has a chest wound.  The guys try to stop the bleeding from the wrists with the help of tourniquets.  They young man wants them to take Laporte to the hospital because the man is dying.  Another radical says no way are they taking him to the hospital.  After the fight is broken up, the radical in the fighting tells his fellow radical that the young fellow must leave. 

So the 19 year old is told he will be going to Louise's place where he will try to reach BB.  The young man asks why can't one of the other two guys go?

The 19 year old leaves the safe house.  So now there are only two radicals guarding Laporte.  One of the men says they must let Laporte go because the public won't like it if he is killed.

October 17.  The radicals are still debating whether or not to kill Laporte.  Laporte is not doing well because of his wounds.  The guy who wants to kill the man thinks about approaching Laporte from behind and strangling him with a rope around his neck.  The two men go inside Laporte's room, but the more sensitive one can't do it and rushes out of the room.  The other fellow follows him out. 

After a little wait, both men go back in.  There is a telephone call and the radicals report that:  "It's done!"

"The four militants of the Chenier Cell, Jacques Rose, Paul Rose, Francis Simard and Bernard Lortie, were arrested several months later.  At their trial, when asked 'Guilty or not guilty?' the four men answered 'Responsible'."

James Cross was released on December 3 in exchange for safe passage for his abductors to Cuba.

 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 

 

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